Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

This book, was incredible. It follows the perspective of three teenagers, Tony, Conner, and Vanessa. All who come from different backgrounds but are connected by mental illness. Tony struggles with pills, Vanessa with cutting, and Conner with suicidal thoughts. They all meet in a mental institution called Aspen Springs where they must fight their mental illness for a better life. This book is one of the longest books I’ve ever read, 666 pages.

Although, the book is written in a poem style, I really enjoyed it. This books made me feel all kinds of emotions, happiness, sadness, nervous, and many more. This book really changed my perspective on life, and made me appreciate that I have others around me. For this book, I recommended you read it if you have a high maturity level. I would definitely read this book again and others by this author. From the moment I read the first page to when I closed the book at the end, I was obsessed. I did not think I would love this book as much as I did. This book is definitely now in my top ten favorites. I highly recommend this book, and hope you find it as intriguing as I did!

-Kyndle W.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

The Divine Comedy was written by Dante Alighieri who grew up in Florence, Italy during the Middle Ages. During this time, there was great political tension, especially between two groups. The first was for the papacy and they were called the Ghibelline. The other, which Dante was a member of, demanded of independence from the Church, and they were called the Guelph. After the Ghibelline fell, the Guelph broke into two separate sectors: the white Guelph and the black Guelph. Although initially the white Guelph were triumphant, the black Guelph returned not long after and exiled many of the prominent white leaders, Dante among them. While in exile, a vision came to him, and this is when he wrote The Divine Comedy.

There are three parts to the Comedy. It begins with the Inferno, which is probably the most widely known. The second book is called Purgatorio (Purgatory), and the third: Paradiso (Paradise). At the beginning of the poem, Dante describes how he has lost his way, and is lost in a figurative “dark wood”. Luckily, Virgil, Dante’s symbol for human reason, approaches him and explains that the only way he may return to the true way is if he makes the arduous journey through Inferno, Purgatory, and finally, Paradiso. Virgil acts as Dante’s guide through Inferno and Purgatory, but Beatrice (a character which represents divine love to Dante) leads him through Paradiso.

This book was interesting for numerous reasons. For one, I had never before read anything remotely like it. The comedy is formatted in stanzas, each with three lines. Coincidentally, there are thirty-three cantos (Italian for chapters) in each book, and there are three parts (Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradiso). There are many other elements in this book which revolved around the significance of the number three which was very interesting.

This book is packed with symbolism, analogies, and allegories. It was a bit difficult to wrap my head around some parts despite the fact that the writing itself wasn’t very extensive. I found it extremely interesting to think that all of this had come in the form of a vision to Dante. There is so much detail, and so many little complexities, which it makes it difficult to imagine how he could’ve recalled all of it in such illustrious detail.

This book was originally written in Italian, and there are many different translations, which all differ slightly depending on the translator and their take on Dante’s work. The version I read was translated by John Ciardi. I found this version very helpful as it had summaries at the beginning of each chapter, which really helped me to better understand the story.

Despite the fact that it is called The Divine Comedy, it’s not actually a comedy. The poem describes Dante’s journey through the three books as he found his way back to the true path. This book is fairly well-known, but I know few people who have actually read the entirety of it. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I still thought it was a very intriguing read.

-Elina T.

Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Image result for the sun is also a starThe Sun Is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon, is told through the perspective of two teenagers: Natasha and Daniel. Natasha is Jamaican senior who loves music and science.  She is going to be deported from the United States, and tries to talk to a lawyer to let her stay in America. Daniel is a Korean senior who meets Natasha by fate.  They spend the day together, trying to get to know each other better. Natasha is dealing with trying to not be deported, while Daniel is trying to avoid his Yale interview. They discuss science, life, poetry, and love. Natasha doesn’t believe that she can fall in love with him, while Daniel thinks the opposite.

Even though the author wrote back and forth between Natasha and Daniel in short paragraphs, and had background information about several topics in the book as another chapter, I thought that this book was well written. You spend the entire book hoping that Natasha isn’t deported, and think that Daniel and Natasha are meant to be together. I thought that the ending was well written, but the epilogue should have been longer.

This book is for the fans of John Green.  It’s bittersweet, and it makes you think that even though you think there’s no hope, there still is hope. It’s okay for most audiences. I would recommend this book for people who are okay with a sad and meaningful book.

-Rebecca V., 8th grade

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

daybefore_lisaschroederToday is different
For Amber,
Running away
To be alone.

She needs a day
For herself
That isn’t filled
With tears.
This is her last day

Of her before.

The day before it all changes.

Amber expected
To be alone
With her drumsticks,
Just because;
Her camera,
Just for fun;
And a box jelly beans,
Just like always.

She takes a limo
To the beach.
Today is not
About holding back.

She goes to the
Aquarium where
She meets
A boy
By the jellyfish tank.

They connect
Instantly
“Did you see that movie?” he asks,
And Amber knows
What he’s talking about.

They see the sharks
And the sea stars,
Not exchanging many words,
Not at first.

Cade, the boy,
Thought he
Was alone today, too,
But they decide to spend
Today together.

He has a condition for today,
Not to ask
Why the other is
At the beach, by themselves.

The have fun
Building sandcastle,
Climbing lighthouses,
Enjoying the day.

Both Amber and Cade
Are hiding a secret.

Tomorrow will
Never
Be the same again.

Cade.
Loves the ocean so much.
Writes songs everywhere he goes.
Lives today like its his last.

What secret is he hiding?

Cade told her
Not to ask.

Yet she wants
To know.

Written in verse
Amber’s day
Is told.

Th secrets
The style
The story.

It’s beautiful.

-Nicole G., 11th Grade

The Day Before is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

April is National Poetry Month

national_poetry_monthDo you like poetry? Does it inspire you? Do you like to read it or write it? What kind of poems do you like? If you enjoy drama and suspense, you might like some of William Shakespeare’s poems. If you like horror, then you might want to read some of Edgar Allan Poe poems. If you like more upbeat and cheerful things, Walt Whitman will be a good choice for you. Personally, I like Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” In my English class, we are in the “Poetry Unit.” I like to read and write poetry. It’s fun to break the poem down and see the true meaning behind the words. My teacher loves to break down poems. She recently assigned us to write an ode poem, which is a poem celebrating a person, place, or thing. We had to write other poems too like concrete poems, which is a poem that makes a shape, and a lyric poem, which is a poem that is musical. For my ode poem, I wrote an “Ode to Music.” I think music is very similar to poetry because they both tell stories and have moods and tones. They can change a person’s emotions and some apply to our own lives. This is my ode poem: Ode to Music Music is a way to escape. A chance to find serenity. A place where you can go away. Music is as calming as a waterfall. It helps us through bad times. It heals us. It tells us stories. Music can help a person relax from a long day of work. It can make us feel happy, sad, or mad. It puts us in a peaceful state of mind. Music is the key to our happiness. Where would we be without it? I hope you liked my poem! I would love to hear your thoughts about my poem and poetry itself in the comments! -Sabrina C., 8th grade

Characters We Carry With Us

Do you carry
Your characters with you,
As you
Carry on?

Do you keep
them in your pocket
or hold them
in your heart?

I do.

They are there
To relate to.
To learn more about.
To understand.
To be understood.
To make life,
Make sense.

I carry my characters with me.
I hold them in
My heart.
They are my friends
And I carry them
With me.

Your favorite books, the ones that sit in a place of honor on your bookshelf, are the books that you have read more than a million times because something about them feels right– they feel like home. They feel like home because of the setting. They feel like home simply because they have been read and re-read more times than you can count. But sometimes, they feel like home because of the characters. We can turn to these books and know that when we immerse ourselves in their pages that we will be with old friends.

Often the characters we love the most have been with us the longest. They come from the books we loved as children. Sara Crewe from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess, Winnie Foster in Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting, Hattie Owen from Ann M. Martin’s A Corner of the Universe, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March form Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, the daughters and families of Heather Vogel Frederick’s The Mother-Daughter Book Club series, any of the girls in the American Girl series, and- of course- Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger (and every other character in those books) from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are all examples of beloved characters and the list could go on. We love them as children but as we grow older we can understand them in new ways as we experience life.

As you go about your life do you ever find yourself thinking, “Oh, so this is how that character felt when…” or “this person reminds me of a certain character in that book
or maybe even “I wish I could be more like this character?”” I do. One of the best parts about reading is that as we read, we gain something that can never be lost. C. S. Lewis said that “We read to know we are not alone.” How true this is! In books we see characters with stories, with problems, with feelings, that are just like ours. We realize that we can relate to them, and the loneliness is lost in realization that someone else, fictional or not, understands. Am I alone in admiring Sara Crewe’s bravery, determination, or heart? Am I alone in admiring Jo March’s will to better herself or her individuality? Am I alone in admiring Harry Potter’s courage, loyalty, and love? I don’t think so. These traits are something that everyone admires and are one reason we love these character so much– we hope to be like them.

These characters, or friends, teach us lessons about life and help us understand the world. They can always be relied upon to be there to return to, whether you are upset or simply miss them. As J.K. Rowling said, “The stories we love best do live in us forever so whether you can come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

I believe that characters too, will also always welcome us home because they never truly leave us.

-Stephanie R., 11th grade